Today marks the end of the twenty day window granted under state law for the San Antonio City Clerk to verify the 26,000 petition signatures submitted by opponents of that downtown streetcar, and place a charter change amendment on the city ballot in November, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.
Added into the mix was the decisive statement made by Mayor Ivy Taylor last week that even though she is a backer of the quarter billion dollar streetcar, she would also like to see a vote on the project take place before city funds are spent.
The Streetcar Vote Coalition, which is pushing for a public vote, says their signatures more than meet the statutory requirements which call for 'petitions signed by a number of qualified voters of the municipality or 20,000, whichever number is the smaller.'
Streetcar Vote Coalition attorney Jerad Navijar says in an opinion there is no doubt that the signatures are valid and the City Clerk has no choice but to set an election.
Navijar is concerned about the City Attorney's office saying that the petitions are lacking what is called a 'circulator affidavit,' a statement signed by the people who circulated the petitions setting out their qualifications and stating, among other things, what they told the citizens before they signed.
Navijar says the Texas Constitution requires a circulator affidavit for City Council recall petitions, but specifically does not require the affidavit for elections demanding a charger change.
"There is nothing in the Constitution or the statutes which requires an initiative petition to amend a city charger to require any particular form of execution, and the only requirement made of the signer of such a petition is that he must be a qualified voter of the city whose charter is it proposed to amend," Navijar said.
Greg Brockhouse, a spokesman for the Streetcar Vote Coalition, said now is the time for the city to respect the will of the people.
"The people have spoken in a loud and clear voice, they want a vote on the streetcar," he said. "The Coalition submitted well over the required 20,000 verified signatures and we are confident it was a professional and legal process. Let's hope the City Council makes the right choice and chooses the voters over VIA."
City officials may rely on the 'illegal result' statute, which states that a vote cannot be held on a question which would be illegal if implemented. VIA officials have said that the 1977 state law which created VIA gave the transportation agency unfettered eminent domain authority over San Antonio streets.